Northern Brewer's Chris Farley's Feature - Malted Grain

Craft and Specialty Malt

As homebrewers, most of us have a deep understanding of the level of skill and care that goes into making a well-crafted beer. But not everyone realizes that this attention to detail and love of craft extends to the so called “raw materials” that are used to produce beer. And ultimately, no ingredient is more painstakingly crafted than the malt that we use to make our beer.

As with beer, where you have macro-beer, you also have mega-malt. This malt is grown in vast fields, harvested and shipped hundreds of miles to gigantic industrial facilities by railcar. At the malthouse, it is steeped in water, sprouted, and kilned, then analyzed and blended (where the poor quality stuff is diluted into the better quality stuff). This malt is used, not just by macro-brewers, but by the food and pharmaceutical industry.

But there is also craft malt, which represents a tiny fraction of the malt produced in the world. It is produced in a handful of much smaller malt houses, run by family-owned businesses with names like Briess, Rahr and Weyermann. They often produce dozens of different, specialty products, and they carefully cater to the needs of craft brewers and distillers. The process is more hands-on, more laborious and more exacting.

I recently had the privilege to visit one of these craft malt companies, Weyermann Malting Company. Sabine Weyermann is now in a 4th generation owner of the plant, which is set in the picturesque Bavarian city of Bamburg. The Weyermann family has over 100 years of experience making brewer’s malt.

Farleys Feature Weyermann Malt Factory

As I expected, they control every aspect of the malting process, from providing the right seeds to the farmers (so they know they are getting right varieity of barley in return), to gently turning the malt as it sprouts, to keeping their drum roasters spotless, to carefully controlling the shipping conditions when they ship malt overseas. Their attention to detail at every step of the process results in a perfectly consistent product, which they achieve without the luxury of blending.

Weyermann actually operates a very special facility in the Czech Republic where their famous floor malted Bohemian Pilsner malt is made. Floor malting is an amazing, extremely laborious process. It is essentially the same way malt was made 100 years ago, where the germinating malt is turned by hand. By people with rakes. There is simply no way to replicate this process with large scale automation, and the resulting product speaks for itself.

If you really care about the craft of brewing, whether you brew for fun or for your profession, you owe it to yourself to brew with craft malt!

Weyermann Pale Ale Malt

Weyermann Carafa I Malt
Weyermann Floor Malted Bohemian Pilsner Malt

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About Azacca®

Origin: Washington, USA. The hop formerly known as #483 from the American Dwarf Hop Association, Azacca®  is named for the Haitian god of agriculture.

Usage: Excellent aromatic qualities make Azacca® a go-to hop for late and dry hop additions in a variety of styles, although its high myrcene fraction has already made it a favorite of IPA brewers. Shows well as a single hop in a simple grist.

Aroma & Flavor Characteristics: Intense and tropical. Sustained impressions of citrus and very ripe mango, with notes of orchard fruit (pears, apples) and pine needles throughout.

Botanical Classification:
Family: Cannabaceae
Genus: Humulus
Species: Lupulus

Maturity: Mid to late-season.

Yield: 2,200 – 2,400 lbs/acre

Learn to make Hard Cider with Crooked Apple™

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Brewing TV Road Trip!

The Brewing TV crew flew down to So-Cal to have a brew day with beer geek, and all around good guy, Wil Wheaton. We wanted to brew a wicked triple IPA, a true Californian creation. The team shot such a huge amount of video and great conversation that we have broken it down into a few segments for you to enjoy. Watch Part 1 of this home brewing session where we start the brew and talk beer, equipment and southern California craft brewing with Wil. Then stay tuned in for Part 2 and the post brew tasting and beer talk.

Brew, Share, Enjoy!

Short Pours content worth reading for brewers everywhere
Short Pours Kegerator

Kegerators come in all shapes and sizes… it’s more fun if you build your own!

Let’s face it. Regardless of how long you’ve been brewing, bottling your beer is a tedious process. Washing, filling, and capping dozens of bottles makes for a very long day.

That’s why many of us eventually decide to start kegging our homebrew. Soda kegs are easy to clean and sanitize. Plus, they protect your beer from light and keep it fresh longer.

Kegs require a refrigerator though. Not everyone has the space for a dedicated fridge. But if you’re already storing cases of bottles, a small fridge might be the answer. There are many commercial kegerators available that make that easy.

But where’s the fun in that? You make your own beer. Surely you can make a custom kegerator!

One solution is a small dorm fridge. Using off-the-shelf parts and household tools, you can easily convert a 5 cubic foot fridge into a kegerator for a fraction of the cost of a commercial unit. This is a great solution for those who have limited space and only a couple of batches to serve at one time.

A small kegerator like this can fit just about anywhere. You could even build it directly into your home bar or brew cave. The customization options are endless. Besides, when you open up your homemade kegerator and reveal gleaming stainless-steel kegs of your own beer, your friends will know you’re serious. They’ll likely remember that beer and how you served it!

Here are a few tips that can help in your build.

  1. Use Keg Lube on all the keg seals. It will help prevent CO2 leaks and prolong the life of the o-rings, especially on the posts.
  2. Before you drill into a small refrigerator, locate the cooling lines. Not only for your own safety, but to keep from disabling the fridge permanently.
  3. Add an extra gas line. That way you have a spare CO2 supply for purging oxygen from carboys or kegs. And, you’ll be able to attach a bottle filler when you need to.
  4. Full kegs are heavy. Make sure you can lift one into your chosen kegerator. If not, consider an upright model or 2.5 or 3 gallon kegs.
  5. A wireless weather thermometer is an easy way to monitor the inside temperature, even from a short distance away.

Happy kegging!


Kegerator King Kit

Tap Handles

Bjorn Berg, Brewmaster

I’m very proud of the work Northern Brewer has done to help people make better beer at home. In 1995 I published the first edition of the Northern Brewer catalog. This catalog has since become the most famous showcase of brewing products in the industry. The Northern Brewer Homebrew Forum launched in 1997 and became a hugely popular place for homebrewers to get their brewing questions answered in near real-time. More recently, I created BrewingTV with a mission to create unique and fun videos about the culture of homebrewing. It is Northern Brewer’s mission to help you make the best possible beer.
That’s why we are so fond of saying,“We won’t rest until you brew your best.”

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